Friday, January 8, 2010

Are YOU well pleased with Jesus?

I'm beginning a new sermon series this week. I'll be preaching through the Gospel of Mark a chunk at a time. This week, we get Mark's highly condensed account of the beginnings of Jesus' ministry from John's baptism through the calling of the first disciples in Galilee. Like all of the Synoptic Gospels, Mark records the voice of God saying from heaven, "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

I read those lines again as I prepared for this week's sermon and also saw them repeated on a friend's Facebook status in the form of the question that titles this post (Thanks Robert!). Anyway, as I thought about it, it occurred to me that for many people, the answer to the question, "Are you pleased with Jesus?" is an emphatic "No." They aren't pleased with Jesus. Basically, these folks break down into one of the following camps:
  1. Hurting people. I know, I know, Jesus is the first person you should turn to when you are hurting. I believe that and have even demonstrated the truth of it with my life some of the times I've been hurting. Yet for a lot of people, and even for me in some moments, pain is the time when we are most displeased with Jesus. After all, how could He allow this (death, illness, loss, or other painful circumstance) to happen? More to the point, how could he let it happen to me?
  2. Religious people. Religious people never tire of being torqued with Jesus. I used to know some people who seriously argued that the water Jesus turned to wine wasn't really wine. They simply had no category for a Jesus who was both compassionate and enjoyed a glass of good wine with friends. Other religious people don't think God's grace extends to all kinds of sinners, but only to those who sin in the same ways that they do. To the religious, the real Jesus of the Scriptures seems a little too wild and unrestrained in his choice of crowd and in the selection of people to whom he ministered. Best to tone it down a bit, and put Jesus on a leash, they think. Wouldn't want any real sinners to get the idea they could worry about changing to a new way of life after they found forgiveness for their old one. Religious people aren't pleased with Jesus, or at least, not with the biblical one.
  3. Rebellious people. From a certain perspective, all people fit into this last category. Yet for some, this is where they spend their entire lives. They aren't so much displeased with Jesus as they are in full-fledged revolt against Him and against everything Jesus calls them to do. These are the people the religious look down upon, the real sinners: thieves, murderers, liars, adulterers, homosexuals, drug dealers, pornographers, etc., etc.
It occurs to me that many of us spend our lives in at least one, if not more, of these categories. It also occurs to me that in some sense a joy-filled life is directly tied to how much our thinking conforms to God's. So to the extent we aren't aligned with God's thinking on a particular issue or area of life, to that extent we will be displeased with Jesus.

So let me ask you: Are you well pleased with Jesus? If not, why not?

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